Small businesses are often forced to do more with less resources than larger enterprises. Fewer employees and resources combined with less startup cash can prevent SMBs from going after bigger clients or expanding their practice.

One thing that SMBs often hesitate to invest in is technology. Lack of knowledge or lack of funds can prevent SMBs from investing in the tech resources that will take them to the next level and allow them to position themselves to compete with much larger companies. The good news is that many free and low-cost technology solutions are available to help a SMB succeed.

What is Cloud Computing?

One of these technologies is cloud computing. Cloud computing simply means accessing information and services online, as opposed to on your desktop.

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It provides a new way to capitalize on software and programs, turning to the Internet, or “cloud,” from any location through any device, including mobile phones and laptops.

The cloud has ushered in a host of benefits for small businesses, creating a technology revolution that makes enterprise-class software available online for an affordable price.

A recent online survey, conducted by 7th Sense Research and sponsored by Microsoft, assessed the opinions and attitudes of SMBs toward cloud-based services and found that, while the current understanding of cloud computing among them is low, they have a great appetite to understand more. Now is the time to get smart about the capabilities of the cloud and to give your SMB a needed boost.

The Benefits of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing offers several benefits, including reliability, mobility and efficiency. When people hear that a technology will be low-priced, they often worry that it may not be reliable. That’s not the case with cloud services, since you no longer have to worry about losing or accidentally erasing important files. Any business document also can be saved in the cloud, so you’ll always have access to that file, any time from any location.

Having that access regardless of your physical location is important. The cloud has really evolved in recent years because IT developers understand that today’s business world requires constant attention, requiring businesses of any size to be global and mobile at all times.

If you use a business application in the cloud, you can access it from any computer or your mobile device. By enabling remote access, the cloud helps businesses mobilize their employees and reduce operating costs.

Remember the idea of doing more with less? Cloud computing can be subscription-based, so it actually scales up and down as your business does the same. If your busiest time is in the summer, cloud computing lets you scale your Web services up or down depending on the computing power you use. That way you only pay for what you use.

The cloud is something that we’ll hear more about over the next few years as it continues to evolve, and I look forward to contributing more technology advice to the Small Business Bonfire.

Image credit (clouds): beteton
Image credit (cloud computing): mbortolino